Art advisor Olivier Demblum on the special pieces from his personal art collection.
Olivier Demblum spent 15 years at wealth manager Pictet before taking up the role of director at Opera Gallery Hong Kong in 2019. He grew up surrounded by art and it has always been a passion, he says. “The art in my home enlightens me every day,” he says.
Here, he shares his favourite things.
Arman Inclusion de tubes (circa 2004)
French-American artist Arman’s unconventional sculpture crystallised my fondness for art. Reminiscent of Duchamp’s ready-mades and the Dada movement, it is an assemblage of discarded paint tubes. During summer 2006 I was in the south of France with a pretty low mood. I entered a gallery and saw this sculpture. Its bold colours instantaneously caught my eyes and cheered me up. I bought it a few hours after: my first serious art piece.
Rob Tucker Tropical Fruit Salad with Custard (2019)
My deep affection for gastronomy is mirrored in New Zealand artist Rob Tucker’s playful renderings of still-life and desserts. He transforms luscious tropical fruits and custard into simplified geometric shapes that appeal to the eyes, evocative of David Hockey’s era of Pop Art and abstraction. I had just started last year at Opera Hong Kong. I was talking to my team when handlers placed this painting on a wall behind my team to take pictures of it. I fell in love with its energy and lost track of the conversation. So, I bought it instantaneously. This piece is now in my living room and it always gives me the same energy every time I look at it.
French urban artist Invader works incognito, which only adds to his aura of mystery. He has left traces of his eight-bit-video-game-inspired ceramic-tile mosaics all around the world, including Paris, New York, and Hong Kong. I was on my way back from Asia to Europe when a friend called me to say that a serious collector of the artist was selling his pieces in Dubai. So, I changed my flight tickets and checked in to a hotel on Jumeirah Beach the day after. A few minutes later, this guy showed me his amazing collection of Invader’s pieces. I couldn’t resist buying this art piece. Every time I look at it, I remember that art, before being exclusive, should be accessible and visible to everyone.
Miguel Berrocal, Mini Maria Pendant
Spanish figurative and abstract sculptor Miguel Berrocal’s Mini Maria Pendant is a jolly piece that invites interaction. Deconstructing the classical Maria iconography, this tiny pendant consists of 23 pieces that can be disassembled and put together again. I received this piece as a gift. I wear it on casual days. With my Cesar Baldaccini pen and a very nice vintage Picasso lighter, it is my way of taking art everywhere I go.
Bruneau, wooden sculpture
Created by Belgian artist Bruneau, this wood sculpture is a nod to the primitivism trend that dominated the oeuvre of modernist artists in the early 20th century. Combining paint, wood, and printed letters, the ingenious and multi-media sculpture offers diversity and originality. I discovered this art piece in Belgium. I was browsing vinyl discs and stopped in front of this gigantic piece that was hidden in the darkness of a room. It belonged to the owner of the store, who is a friend of the artist. Bruneau is a contemporary of Basquiat, who influenced him a lot. Sadly, he managed his life very badly and career too, and gallerists gave up on supporting him while he was turning a significant artist in Belgium. Since then, I have been hunting his pieces.